Friday, February 13, 2009

AFF First Look With Chris McQuarrie

When Chris McQuarrie attended the Festival in 2006 (and, yes, that was the same year as the most amazing panel in the history of panels: Shane Black, David Milch, and Sydney Pollack at the Paramount Theatre discussing the process of creating complex and memorable characters), his Meet and Greet was packed and we all sat on the floor, squeezed together, enthralled by his stories about researching, writing, working with Bryan Singer, and the perils and pleasures of the film business. Chris was funny, forthright, and inspiring, and when he finally begged off almost 3 hours later, it felt like we’d been in the room for only 20 minutes.

I am thrilled that he will be returning to Austin and joining us for the Conference this year and plan to beg, plead, and badger him into resuming work on The Stanford Prison Experiment a fascinating, terrifying and timely psychological project (official website for the Experiment is that needs to be brought to the big screen.

AFF: Where do things stand with the Stanford Prison Project?
Chris McQuarrie: After an unexpected two year detour producing “Valkyrie,” I am weighing several options - one of which is The Stanford Prison Experiment. Status: pending.

AFF: What are you currently working on?
CM: Call me superstitious, but these days I only list projects in production. Right now, I'm not in production.

AFF: What is the best advice you ever received as a screenwriter?
CM: "Write a good script and you will be delivered." It was both the best and worst advice. Ever.

AFF: Briefly describe your writing process.
CM: (procrastination + debt) ÷ (ambition x self doubt)

AFF: What are some of your favorite screenplays?
CM: “Deliverance”, “The Verdict”, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, “Die Hard”, “Electraglide in Blue”, “Lone Star”, “The Big Country”, “The Lives of Others.”

AFF: Is there a movie you wish you'd written?
CM: I wish I could write Michael Bay movies.

Christopher McQuarrie is a writer/director/producer whose credits include The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun and Valkyrie. Current projects include Champions and The Monster of Florence.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Texas Book Fest and the LBJ Library & Museum present Hollywood vs. New York: Three Writers’ Perspectives

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Library & Museum

Hollywood vs. New York: Three Writers’ Perspectives

In conjunction with the Texas Book Festival

Tuesday, February 17, 6:30 p.m.

LBJ Library and Museum

Atrium, 10th floor

A reception will follow.

On February 17, the Future Forum will partner with the Texas Book Festival to present a discussion on screenwriting, featuring three local luminaries.

These novelists and screenwriters will reveal what it's like to work for editors in New York versus the studios in L.A: Shauna Cross is the author of Derby Girl, a young adult novel she's adapted for Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, Whip It, slated to be released in 2009; Owen Egerton is the author of the novel Marshall Hollenzer Is Driving and the story collection How Best to Avoid Dying and the co-screenwriter of Bobbie Sue, a comedy Warner Bros. bought last fall; and Stephen Harrigan shuttles adeptly between writing novels (The Gates of the Alamo and Challenger Park, among others) and writing scripts for film and TV. Novelist and sometime screenwriter Sarah Bird will moderate the panel.

If you’re interested in attending, just RSVP at Registration is suggested as seating will be limited.

Founded in 2002, the Future Forum is an active membership organization of the LBJ Library and Museum. The purpose of the Future Forum is to encourage participation in the Library and its activities, engage members in dialogue about current issues, and encourage greater civic involvement in our community. The Future Forum hosts numerous programs each year, including expert speakers, bipartisan panel discussions, engaging debates, and exhibit previews, in addition to a number of “cluster” activities focused on books and film. Membership is $50 per year and includes invitations and access to about six to eight programs each season. For more information, please visit

The Texas Book Festival was established in 1995 by First Lady Laura Bush, an ardent advocate of literacy, to honor Texas authors, promote the joys of reading and benefit the state's public libraries. Each fall, fans of literature, reading, and books find more than 190 of the nation's most accomplished and beloved writers at the Texas State Capitol for the annual Texas Book Festival. For more information, please visit

Monday, February 02, 2009

Lining Up Panelists and Tackling Hollywood

Only the second day of February and we're already lining up panelists for the 2009 Conference, October 22-25. Doug Ellin, "Entourage" creator/writer, and Gina Prince-Bythewood (I've invited her FOUR years in a row), writer/director of "The Secret Life of Bees" and one of my favorites, "Love & Basketball," have accepted our invitations and will be here in October.

Check out this LA Times profile on Ellin discussing plans for fifth season and tackling what he calls the "biggest thing about Hollywood," its extreme seesaw nature:,0,3368961.story

Other confirmed panelists include:

Paul Feig (creator/writer of the Emmy-nominated “Freaks and Geeks”, writer/director “I Am David”, writer “Unaccompanied Minors”) Just won DGA Award!

Jay A. Fernandez, senior film reporter The Hollywood Reporter

Barry Josephson, producer 20th Century Fox

Chris McQuarrie (writer “The Usual Suspects”, “The Way of the Gun”, “Valkyrie”)

Melissa Rosenberg (“Twilight”, “New Moon,” and “Breaking Dawn”, head writer “Dexter”)